Will Weinstein ever take abuse charges seriously?
AFTER some three decades of alleged abuse, last week, Harvey Weinstein finally swapped strolling the Oscars’ red carpet for a walk of shame into a New York police station.
It took more than 70 women, each of whom claims to be either a victim of rape, sexual assault or indecent exposure at his hands, to come forward before the Hollywood horror was forced to face justice.
Going as far back as the Nineties, Weinstein ruled with fear. Anyone who dares stand up to or speak out against the movie mogul was blacklisted, their careers destroyed.
So the sight of the purported predator in cuffs, fitted with an ankle bracelet and charged with rape, will have no doubt brought a scintilla of satisfaction to those he is alleged to have abused.
But there is still a long way to go before they can contemplate joy and relief.
For years Weinstein avoided his day of reckoning, doing everything in his vast power to prevent it, despite his victims’ accounts leaving little doubt as to the emotional and physical distress he caused.
On the odd occasion someone threatened to go public, he either bought his accuser’s silence, or set loose his pitbull lawyers. He is even said to have used ex-Mossad spies and enablers in the American press to discredit the claims against him.
The few who were unmoved by his bully-boy tactics, were then let down by the law and the Manhattan district attorney, Cy Vance Jr.
In 2015 the celebrity prosecutor refused to bring charges against Weinstein despite Italian beauty queen Ambra Battilana Gutierrez recording him on an NYPD wire admitting he groped her.
After taking no action in the case, Vance then failed to prosecute the producer on two other rape allegations brought by actress Paz de la Huerta.
Her lawyer called the DA’s actions “startlingly similar” to the way he dealt with Gutierrez.
Vance could undoubtedly have brought more charges against Weinstein, involving more women who’ve alleged sexual assault by him, were it not for New York statutes of limitation that place strict deadlines on many non-forcible felony assaults. Indeed, for the 2004 rape incident he has been charged with, prosecutors will have to prove to a grand jury and then a jury, that Weinstein forced the sexual contact – otherwise, the statute of limitations could make sustaining a conviction almost impossible. The prosectuors have a long road ahead to prove their case, against what will undoubtedly be a team of the best lawyers money can buy.
It is a fact Weinstein knows only too well and probably explains why he waltzed out of the police station with a smug grin on his face after being charged, despite having to hand over $1million in bail.
His attorneys will claim his actions were merely bad behaviour not criminal. They will say he is innocent and argue he did nothing wrong in a legal sense.
But what is certain is that he did nothing right in a decent sense.
In his denial of the charges, the producer’s lawyer has already told the court: “Mr Weinstein did not invent the casting couch in Hollywood”.
Maybe not, but what he did was take it and turn it into an emotional torture chamber.
He did not see his victims as human beings. He saw them as women he could use and abuse. Sure Weinstein may have left court on Friday without his passport, but he also left with that revolting smirk.
Weinstein clearly still doesn’t get it. He still can’t see the monster that we all see.
Harvey Weinstein is led out of the New York Police Department’s First Precinct – the police officer seems to appreciate the serious nature of the situation even if Weinstein doesn’t
Rape accuser: Actress Paz de la Huerta